Omicron has global impact on cruise ship itineraries

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has seen cruise ship companies cancel and alter itineraries for cruises worldwide.

Royal Caribbean International announced on Friday January 7th that it had cancelled voyages on four ships because of ongoing Covid-related circumstances “around the world.”

RCI said that it was pausing its operations on some ships “in abundance of caution”, and despite its current stringent health and safety measures, which include vaccination and testing requirements for guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean said guests booked on the cancelled sailings would receive compensation options, including a full refund.

The affected ships were:

  • Vision of the Seas (IMO 9116876): Its return to cruising is postponed until March 7th. As of January 6th it was moored at Cococay, Bahamas.
  • Serenade of the Seas (IMO 9228344): Its sailings from January 8th to March 5th are cancelled. It will return after dry dock on April 26th. As of January 8th it was moored in Tampa, Florida, USA.
  • Jewel of the Seas (IMO 9228356): Its sailings from January 9th to February 12th are cancelled. It will return on February 20th. As of January 7th the vessel was en route from Aruba to Miami, ETA January 9th.
  • Symphony of the Seas (IMO 9744001): Its sailings from January 8th to January 22nd are cancelled. It will return on January 29th.

Royal Caribbean requires that all guests aged 12 and older who depart from US ports have to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination, with the final dose of their vaccine given at least 14 days before sailing. The cruise operator also said that certificates of recovery cannot be used in place of proof of full vaccination.

Elsewhere, cruise liner Hurtigruten said that it had curtailed its Antarctic voyage after an outbreak of Covid-19. Ten people on board the MS Roald Amundsen (IMO 9813072)tested positive for Covid-19. The ship will return to port in Chile two days ahead of schedule, Hurtigruten Expeditions said. The ship had about 362 passengers and crew on board when it left Punta Arenas in southern Chile for a planned 18-day cruise to the Antarctic. It will now return to the same port. As of January 8th the vessel was between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, Chile, ETA January 8th..

Hurtigruten Expeditions operates a fleet of seven ships offering voyages in over 30 countries, including in the polar regions.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Pearl (IMO 9342281) returned to Miami on January 5th after just one full day at sea. It reported an outbreak of Covid-19 among crew members. Passengers were informed that their cruise, intended to be an 11-day voyage to the Panama Canal, would be turning around during the night of January 4th. Cruise operator NCL said, even though all guests and crew members aboard the vessel were vaccinated, several crew members tested positive for coronavirus. As of January 8th the vessel was at Miami Anchorage. The cruise line has also cancelled a nine-day Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Getaway (IMO 9606924) that was scheduled to leave Port Miami on January 5th due to “Covid-related circumstances. As of January 8th it was at anchorage in Miami.

In Asia, passengers of the Spectrum of the Seas (IMO 9778856) were quarantined in Hong Long after nine contacts of an omicron-infected person were identifed. The ship had arrived at the Tak Cruise terminal during the morning of January 5th. Passengers were tested and not allowed to disembark. The nine contacts were isolated on board. Tests of them showed no Covid-19 infections. Nevertheless, the next scheduled cruise of the Spectrum of the Seas, due to start on January 6th, was cancelled. As of January 7th it was reported as being underway from Hong Kong to an unknown destination.

Finally, German cruise line AIDA has had to curtail am AIDAnova (IMO 9781865) cruise because of the spread of Covid-19 onboard. Passengers have disembarked the ship in Lisbon. When it docked at the port the affected vessel had 2,844 passengers and 1,353 crew members on board. The vessel was heading for the island of Madeira for the New Year’s celebration but had to cancel that part of the journey after Covid-19 was detected among the crew. By last Monday there were 68 positive cases reported on board, including a handful of passengers. Since then, passengers being tested negative were allowed to disembark and then transported to the airport. AIDA has stated that most infected members had no symptoms, with a few suffering mild symptoms. The company said that all passengers and crew on board were fully vaccinated and were required to show a negative antigen test before departure.

The vessel had been scheduled to return to Hamburg on January 8th. before cruising between Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote from January to April 2022. The company has not yet indicated any change of plans in the vessel’s future programme.

1998-built, Bahamas-flagged, 78.717 gt Vision of the Seas is owned by Vision of the Seas Inc care of manager RCL of Miami, Florida. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of Vision of the Seas Inc

2003-built, Bahamas-flagged, 90,090 gt Serenade of the Seas is owned by Serenade of the Seas care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Serenade Of The Seas Inc.

2004-built, Bahamas-flagged, 90,090 gt Jewel of the Seas is owned by Jewel of the Seas Inc care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) of Miami, Florida. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (tour operators) and Jewel of the Seas Inc (P&I owners).

2018-built, Bahamas-flagged, 228,081 gt Symphony of the Seas is owned by Symphony of the Seas Inc care of manager and ISM manager RCL of Miami, Florida. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of Symphony of the Seas Inc.

2019-built, Norway-flagged, 21,765 gt Roald Amundsen is owned by Explorer II AS care of Hurtigruten Cruise AS of Tromso, Norway. ISM manager is Hurtigruten Expedition Tech of Hamburg. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Explorer II AS (P&I Owners) and Hurtigruten AS (Tour Operators).

2006-built, Bahamas-flagged, 93,530 gt Norwegian Pearl is owned by Norwegian Pearl Ltd care of commercial and ISM manager NCL (Bahamas) Ltd of Miami, Florida. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of NCL (Bahamas) Ltd.

2014-built, Bahamas-flagged, 145,655 gt Norwegian Getaway is owned by Breakaway Two Ltd care of manager and ISM manager NCL Bahamas of Miami, Florida. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of NCL (Bahamas) Ltd.

2019-built, Bahamas-flagged, 169,379 gt Spectrum of the Seas is owned by Spectrum of the Seas Inc care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida, USA. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Spectrum of the Seas Inc (Owner) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (Tour Operators).

2018-built, Italy-flagged, 183,858 gt AIDAnova is owned by Costa Crociere SpA of Genoa, Italy. It is managed by Carnival Maritime GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas syndicate) on behalf of AIDA Cruises German Branch of Costa Crociere SpA. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of AIDA Cruises German Branch of Costa Crociere SpA. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of Costa Crociere SpA.